Author: Meghan Fitzgerald, Founder of Tinkergarten
"Most kids’ experiences have been limited in some way in the last year, and it’s natural for them to struggle a bit or feel nervous as they adjust back. It can help to remember, though, that kids are wired to connect to other kids, and learning is an inherently social process. As long as we can provide kids space and time to ease back along with a little framing to help them understand why it’s OK now, they can overcome the initial anxiety and flourish.A few tips:
- Fill your summer with play! Experts and government officials alike are urging parents to weave in summer enrichment and play-based recreation programs as a way to help kids cope with the emotional impact of the past year. Plus, we know that kids are wired to learn a wide range of critical skills through play. Look for programs (like Tinkergarten!) that provide kids with opportunities to play and build plenty of time for play into your summer schedule.
- Enjoy outdoor play dates and time outside. Contact with nature and time in natural settings reduces anxiety, increases focus and brings out the best in kids, and it’s widely understood, even by kids, that being outside reduces the risk of transmission. Plus, kids can enjoy getting to spend time with different kids or in groups again with the safety, comfort and calming benefits they get from being outdoors.
- Frame the last 18 months through a lens of learning. Give kids opportunities to reflect on, acknowledge or even celebrate all that they learned in this time. Whether it’s how to wash their hands well or how to stay warm on an outdoor winter playdate, we all adjusted and adapted, and we should reinforce that resilience and flexibility. Reminding kids of strengths they developed also gives them more confidence to face the transition back into school.
- Review the safety protocols from your school or care center with kids, answer their questions and make it clear that you and school are aligned. If you’re not feeling aligned, reach out to the school to get clarification or share concerns in the hopes of giving kids the comfort of seeing you are on board."
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Tinkergarten helps families get outside and thrive to make the most of their kids' early learning years. Designed by education experts and loved by all families, Tinkergarten's play-based outdoor curriculum guides parents in raising healthy, confident, and capable kids. Through instructor-led and self-guided programming and a rich learning community, Tinkergarten makes purposeful outdoor play doable for every family—rain or shine. For more information, visit Tinkergarten.com and follow @tinkergarten on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.